Tuesday, April 29, 2008
Spring is here...time to get outside and enjoy the scenery! I love the change of season from Winter to Spring. It makes me feel alive! Spring to Summer is even better...
Monday, April 21, 2008
This video is of something I like to call an 'endurance routine'. It's sole purpose is to help me gain some cardiovascular strength so that I don't die before my last couple of passes on the real floor.
It's crazy how your mind and body change when you are tired and staring into the corner for your last pass. Your legs feel like jello, your throat feels like it's bleeding and your mind starts spinning in circles. This, my friends, is not a good feeling. And there is only one way to overcome it...and that is by increasing your endurance!
I have been doing tons of these endurance routines in training. I am trying to go through atleast 2 each day. Some days I don't do as big of tumbling as the one above, but I am trying to keep my body moving constantly from line to line.
I have always done these types of routines. Actually, at my old club (Altadore), I didn't do a SINGLE floor routine on the real floor from 2000-2004 ( I would do them in training camps at other gyms, but never in my home gym). I would do basic and endurance routines on a tumbling strip. I did this for a number of reasons. First, safety. The environment was soft and safe and I could do higher numbers of reps because I wasn't risking an injury. Secondly, motivation. I am more motivated to train when I can just tumble until my hearts content. Thirdly, mind over matter. When I was in great shape I could do all of my hard skills, but some days I would be tired and would need to keep it simple, but still maintain a level of conditioning and endurance build up. If I did an endurance routine with easy tumbling skills, I could still mentally pretend that I was preparing myself for a double twisting double back, but instead do only an open double tuck.
I am a firm believer in smart training. I don't push myself too hard on the days when I know I am tired and mentally mush! I do, however, push myself in mindless ways, so that at the end of the day I know that I have advanced in some way. I have teammates (Dub and Bren!!!!) who will start their floor routine, make the first 3 passes and then screw up the 4th and start again from the beginning. By the time they have reached missed routine # 4, they are disengaged, they are hurting and the chance that they will make the routine on try #5 is slim to none. I don't think this is the right way to go about it. I just don't see the benefit. If you can't make a routine after 3 tries, then obviously something isn't right. This is the point when I would take control and go through 2 basic routines. 2 basic routines are going to be much more beneficial in the end because you are still building up endurance, but not killing your body!
This past couple of weeks have really been great for me inside of the gym. I can feel myself starting to gain some ground on my Olympic goals and I have really been enjoying my time in the gym (maybe because it is a great escape from moving and renovation hell!). I have been completing a lot of tasks and leaving the gym feeling very satisfied.
I came up with a great analogy the other day. My gymnastics and this journey towards Beijing is like a giant puzzle. From the moment I injured myself, I have been slowly putting the pieces together. Every day I have to put atleast one piece in it's place. Some days I put 10 in (those are the best days!!!). I don't know exactly what this puzzle will look like when it's complete, I have a vision of it, but I do know that it will be beautiful and very rewarding. It's my job to ensure that I am committed to finishing it. Some of the pieces are very tedious, like all of the ones that are the same colour, but different shapes (like a sky for example), but I think I am almost done with those ones. It is now starting to become the time when I work on the detailed pieces.
These endurance routines that I have been doing are making me feel like I am working towards something very tangible. They are a GIANT section of the puzzle and they lead to an overwhelming sense of productivity. Once you have the outsides of the puzzle done and you start to work your way in, the pace of accomplishment increases. Once you have completed more than 500 pieces of a 1000 piece puzzle, well, you are more than half way done. I like thinking along these lines. Momentum is powerful ("holla" to all you science geeks out there). I feel very powerful.
The pace is fast, my endurance is increasing, I am making progress and this puzzle is coming together quite nicely.
Sunday, April 20, 2008
Here's an example: You think you have total control over a situation and everything is running smoothly, but then, mysteriously, your freakin' engine light comes on. We've all had that happen! It just happened to me yesterday and I was super bitter. What the hell?! Why now! When things are finally starting to wind down and I feel some sense of control over the occurrences in my life, my bloody engine light has to come on and make things just a little more complicated. What did I do to deserve this? Why did that light just happen to have turned on when I glanced at it while driving down the road? It was like it was taunting me. "Haha, sucka! Try fitting this inconvenience into your busy life!". Sometimes I wonder if engine lights are programmed to turn on once every 40,000 K just so that the dealerships can make an extra $600. I wouldn't put it past them. And the thing is, you can't ignore that light. It is bright, it is orange and it stares at you every single time you turn your car on. Personally, I wish that it will magically disappear one of these start ups. Vroom Vroom...no more light! Unfortunately that probably won't happen. I'm gonna keep wishing though.
There really are two ways to view a crappy situation like this. One way is to do just what I did above and lay blame and be an angry and bitter soul. It really doesn't get you far though. It gets you frustrated and panicky, but it doesn't solve anything.
Luckily, there is another way to view the situation; You can be positive and put your energy into solving the problem. Wow. It sounds so simple. I should just phone the flippin' dealership and book in, shouldn't I?!
It happened, deal with it.
I guess this post is a little personal therapy session for me. I want to continue to be in a state of contentment and optimism, but I slowly feel like life, not gymnastics, but life, is dragging me down. I let the little things build up and then I have a freak out. All I want is to be able to focus solely on gymnastics and my Olympic preparation and not have to continually be juggling a million different errands. I know what you are thinking. I know that this is the way life is for everyone, but I also know myself really well and I know how I work. I work best when I go to bed dreaming about my routines and not about my car breaking down!
Saturday, April 05, 2008
On March 22nd, 2008 I did my first Vault in since August 26th, 2007.
That was almost 7 months in the making.
It was one of the most amazing experiences I have had in a long time. Flying down the runway and flipping over the table is something that I had taken for granted before my injury, but not anymore!
I almost forgot how incredible it felt... Not quite, but almost! As a gymnast, you get a special feeling when you are standing at the end of the vault runway. Your breathing gets shorter and your heart beats faster. Your eyes are peeled on the table 25 meters down the run way. It's the epitome of single minded focus! It's just you and the apparatus. You are filled with adrenaline because you know that for the next 4 seconds you are going to have to be as quick and powerful as you possibly can. You have to explode out of the starting blocks! But, you also have to maintain some sort of control so that you can be precise in your movements. You get a rhythm as you run down (I noticed that my rhythm was totally off for the first few) and you trust that your steps are going to put you in the perfect place to hurdle towards the board. I start my run at 24.65 meters. Yes, that extra 5 cm makes a difference! haha. I take my board at 50cm. I put my hand mat at 1 of my feet plus an inch and a bit away from the board. Oh yes, it is very precise. There is no messing around!
You know what was a little weird though? I almost forgot my ritual. It had been so long since I had set my board. But once I set it a few times there was an amazing sense of belonging and comfort in it. It felt like I was home.
Within a couple of vaults, my run felt pretty normal (except for the plate burn...which is becoming normal) and I gained confidence with each turn.
It was a great way to end the camp. It was also sort of vindicating for me because it was another accomplished milestone in this comeback process.
The next morning I was off to Oakville. I was really excited to see Kelly and to show him my progress! I knew that he would be impressed!
I was also super excited that I had another event to train!!!
I was so excited that I vaulted everyday!
(This is a Yurchenko Double Twist)
And within 3 days, I was back to my old self.
(This is a Yurchenko 2.5. That's right gym fans...a Shewfelt. I had this move named in my honour after I competed it at the 2000 Olympic Games. I was the very first gymnast to perform this skill in World or Olympic competition and therefore I got it named after me!)
I can't say that it didn't hurt. I still feel like I am running on one and a half legs, but it did feel better each and every one. I have a sneaky suspicion that I am going to be in a bit of pain for the next while, but the great thing now is that I am able to haul my ass down there and decently flip over the table.
That, my friends, is called progress. And we all know how much I love PROGRESS!!!!!!!
It was a wonderful week hanging out with Kelly, Sue and Barrett again. I miss them tons. I always seem to come back to Calgary with such a great attitude after I spend some time there. My favourite part about spending time with Kelly is that he knows me so well. He knows when I need a push and he knows when I need a compliment. He is my comfort; and right now, with all of the discomfort I am experiencing with the changes in my life, he has a way of reminding me of who I am. When everything you thought you knew does a 180, you can sometimes feel lost and confused. My time with Kel allowed me some time to escape, to get away from the insanity that is my current life and to just focus on gymnastics. It's exactly what I needed.
Now I am home, I have the keys to my new place and the stressful process that is called 'moving' has begun! I am trying to keep a steady pace and make it as stress free as possible, but for those of you who have ever moved, you know that the unexpected always happens!!!! My plan is to be fully moved into my new place by April 16th (I hired movers for that day so I better be ready!). I can't wait until it is all said and done. It will be a huge weight off of my shoulders.
Not to worry though. My priorities are in line. I'm just excited about a time (soon!) when all I have to worry about is what I will have for dinner after I'm done evening training! That will be so nice!
Tuesday, April 01, 2008
Sprinting at FULL speed by the end of the month.
Now that March has come to an end, I thought that I would reflect and update on the process.
Things started off great. I was determined. So determined that after the first day of running drills and various leg exercises, I could barely bend over and touch my toes because my hamstrings were so tight!
This led me to meet with Dr.Mohtadi to get some anti-inflammatory meds (Oh, how I love the anti-inflams!) .
During the first week, Susan (being the creative individual that she is) found a knee wrap with a little air pad in it to provide compression on the site of the plate. I obsessively followed the rehab plan, doing bungee exercises and heel to bum lifts with electric current on my hamstring, all in the pursuit of running with no pain.
Another exercise I did (quite hideously, I might add) is called a mountain climber. To perform this drill you lean over into a prone position with your nose, knees and belly button all pointing towards the floor. Then you drive your knee up to your chest like you are climbing a mountain! Well, I could do it 100% on the right (which, I guess is something to be proud of!), but negative 100% on the left...which was really concerning. It would seem that gravity, or the fight against it, caused me burning and frustrating pain...kind of like a sky diver who's parachute didn't open (that's a little morbid, Sorry).
So, at the beginning of the March 10th week, a little less than half way through "March Running Madness", I decided that I needed to take a more aggressive approach. I couldn't combat the pain anymore...in fact, it overpowered me in every way and I didn't stand a chance against it!
This led to another meeting with Dr.M and we talked about the options. He suggested we try a cortisone shot. Firstly because the anesthetic we had injected in February had worked quite well and secondly because at this point I was willing to try anything to get rid of the *%^&ing pain! I have always been a little wary of cortisone shots because I have heard that they can make you very arthritic when you get older. I know that this gymnastics thing is going to end one day and when it does I would like to be able to crouch down and crawl on the floor with my kids (when I have them of course...after I make "getting a life" more of a priority!!haha).
I decided that this was necessary. If it could provide me with the extra relief that I craved then it would be worth it. So, on March 10th, I laid there and did my best to avoid watching the GIANT needle squish in. I felt the fluid go up my leg, I bled a little bit and then I went on with my merry day! Yes folks, I got cortisoned! That sounds so much dirtier than it really is!
I was so hopeful that this would be the magic cure, the thing that would take that edge off and allow me to sprint as fast as I could pre-injury.
Following Dr.M's instructions, I took it easy on the Monday and then tested it out on Tuesday.
It felt good, but not incredible. There was still some achy, burning pain in my leg.
I was disappointed. I wanted this to be that instant miracle cure. Why did this injection not numb the pain completely?
Wednesday came and it started to hurt more than before the shot. Was it in my head??? Did I want it to work out so badly that I was actually convincing myself that it was worse than before because it didn't feel 100% better?
I don't know what was going on, but all I know is that the burn was still there and I got a little pissed off.
The thing that made me the most upset was that I could sprint in my head. No problem. In my head I was fast, smooth and powerful. Physically, I could jog well, pick up speed well, but when it came to 'full out legs faster than your body, 'Fred Flintstone style' running, I was unable to do it. My legs (especially the left) just couldn't keep up and it was so annoying!
(In the video, I am sprinting on the track at the Olympic Oval. It looks pretty normal, but believe me, I felt like I was running on one leg)
(Here, more sprinting...and the mats are all like that because they are taking the ice out. This way we can have summer sport activities held there, like the Canadian National Gymnastics Championships!)
The whole experience of getting the shot and having it fail made me feel a little trapped.
I couldn't push myself to get to where I needed to be...and I was trying. Apparently I have an issue with this patience thing sometimes!
I got a little down. I felt defeated. I felt lost. I felt like there was nothing else that I could do. I had tried everything and nothing seemed to get me past that point of plateau.
But, in true Kyle fashion, I over analyzed it to death and came up with a solution. A better outlook. A new glimmer of hope.
Sure, the shot didn't work. Well, I guess we tried it and now we know. At least I won't have to get any more needles in my leg!
Sure, I had been busting my butt with physio. But you know what, even though I couldn't run at max speed, it was getting better. The pain was definitely less than it was at the beginning of the month. I did have more definition in my legs, which is very important when your legs are skinny to begin with!
These types of thoughts changed my perspective. I tried to keep telling myself that I was making progress. I decided that I needed to focus on this. I needed to continue doing the strengthening, continue to manage the inflammation with anti-inflams, continue running with pain, but also try to convince myself that it was a pain I could handle.
I am one tough motha f%#a and nothing is going to stop me from reaching my goal!!!!!!!!!!! Repeat.
This new attitude didn't come in an instant, it took a couple of days, but holy smokes did it change things. Attitude, approach and outlook are incredibly powerful...on both ends of the positive/negative spectrum. If you decide you feel great then you have a better chance of approaching situations with a positive outlook. Little things won't get to you. You'll see the green grass! But if you are down then everything seems like it is out to get you. That grass is brown and burnt to crap! haha.
I've come a long way. I am almost where I need to be. Remember, back in September, when I was sitting in a wheel chair and staring at the wall??? I am so far past that now! I still have time. More than enough time in fact. I just need to make sure that I am absorbing this time with positive energy, enthusiasm and belief in myself. It's guaranteed that this time will pass, very quickly I'm sure, and I need to make the most of every single moment.
My goal for the end of the month was to sprint at full speed. I am sad to say that I am not quite there yet. I tried, but full speed just didn't happen. I'm OK with that though. I'm OK with it because I know that I did everything I could do in pursuit of the sprinting goal. I've come so far and I am choosing to focus on this success and progress.
Now, because of my recent busy personal life, I haven't really been keeping the blog up to date with where I've been and what I've been up to. So here's the condensed version: We had a camp in Calgary and then I spent last week in Oakville with Kelly. Both were great. And, I am happy to say that I have a surprise for you...and personally I think it's even more exciting than sprinting on a track with shoes.
Can you guess what I did???